Tag Archives: Tonify Qi

Is Life Worth Living? It all depends on the liver

KaleThis witty word play by 19th century American philosopher William James serves as a reminder that the health of the liver organ is of utmost importance in living a healthy life. If you want to live, you have to have a liver.

Of the approximately 500 functions of the liver, the most important include synthesis of amino acids and cholesterol; metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats; and the production of bile which assists digestion in the small intestine. The liver plays several roles in the regulation of the blood, breaks down insulin, breaks down toxic substances and allows them to be excreted. In short, the liver supports almost every other organ in the body.

In Chinese medicine, the Liver is the yin organ of the Wood Element. Since spring is the season of the year in which Wood energy is at its peak, spring is the best time to support this organ. Eat plenty of fresh dark green vegetables. Kale (like that pictured in my garden this morning) is one of the best foods to cleanse the liver. Sour foods such as lemons and limes, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut are also terrific. If you’ve been thinking of doing a liver cleanse, then start right now. If you live in the southern hemisphere, the ambient Wood energy will support you greatly.

Perhaps the best acupoint to aid your dietary efforts is Liver 3, Supreme Rushing. This is one of the great tonic points of the body. As the source point of the Liver meridian, it directly treats the organ itself. It also influences many conditions associated with the Liver and the Wood Element. For example, it treats conditions of the eyes which are the sense organs of Wood. It helps with abdominal distension and pain, menstrual irregularities, urinary and genital conditions, all of which occur in areas of the body through which the Liver meridian passes.

Supreme Rushing helps ease insomnia and disrupted sleep as well as headaches that are the result of Liver Qi stagnation. If you’ve eaten too much fatty food, drunk too much alcohol or taken a lot of medications, this point will support their metabolism by the Liver.

At the psycho-emotional level, anger is the emotion of the Wood Element. Anger that does not flow freely tends to lodge in the Liver. Therefore the point can soothe agitation, irritation, frustration and anger. It calms the mind and imparts courage and clarity. Where there is depression caused by suppressed anger and frustration, it can liberate a person’s aliveness and fuel the upward rising energy necessary to allow active engagement with the world.

So if you want to give your Liver a jump start this spring, Supreme Rushing can rush to your aid.

LV 3Location of Liver 3

The Liver source point lies on the top of the foot in a large hollow between the first and second toes, halfway along metatarsal bones. There will probably be a sensitive spot. If the liver is very congested, the point itself may feel thick and swollen.

Power Source Point

WaterfallI expect my acupressure students are tired of hearing me repeat that the source point of a meridian is often the best point to use because it directly influences the corresponding organ and balances the meridian no matter whether it is excess or deficient. I emphasise the source points because they are such safe and effective points to use, especially for beginners.

The source point of the Kidney meridian is K 3, Supreme Stream and is located behind the inner ankle. It is said that palpation of this point indicates the condition of the kidneys, while treating it tonifies and balances the functioning of those organs. It also helps to reduce lumbar pain, especially when used in combination with BL 23 in the low back, a point I explored a couple of blogs back.

The Kidney meridian also influences the urinary and reproductive systems, so K 3 can be used to treat irregular menstruation, infertility, impotence, premature ejaculation, frequent urination and cystitis.

The ears are the sense organs of the Kidney, so this point  benefits the ears and the sense of hearing. It helps with tinnitus, ear infections and hearing loss. Many of the conditions of old age relate to the decline of Kidney Qi, things such as incontinence, memory loss, hair loss, insomnia and feeling the cold. This point can support a person with any of these conditions and is therefore a boon to the aged.

Supreme Stream steadies the Water Element and can have a very calming effect upon the emotions. It is especially helpful in calming fear, the emotion of  Water. This point can settle anxiety, help recovery from highly adrenalised states and aid in healing from frightening and traumatic experiences.

Source points help us to reconnect with our Original Qi, that deep reservoir of energy that we were born with and which serves as our fuel tank for life. Since this Qi is stored in the Kidneys, K 3 is particularly significant in supporting our connection to this power source. It supports us in realising our potential in the world by aligning us with the positive Water qualities of will, determination, courage, persistence and perseverance.

We are still deep in the season of winter and this point will be especially useful at this time of year. Holding a point in the season that corresponds to its Element makes it doubly effective. I recommend utilising this power point over the next few weeks.

Location of Kidney 3

SAMSUNGThe point is immediately behind (posterior to) the inner ankle bone. Find the tip of the ankle and move your finger backwards until you are in the deep hollow between the ankle bone and the Achilles tendon. Feel for a tender spot. Use direct pressure for 2-3 minutes, or until you feel a harmonising of the Qi at the point. I suggest you hold the left side first, then the right. If you are working on someone else, try holding it with BL 23 on the same side of the body. Related points held in combination are much more powerful than points held by themselves.

Low Back Pain and Kidney Qi

Healthy low backHere in southern Australia winter has finally come and the Water Element has spread over the land. The colder weather brings challenges for many people, not least of which is the stress it can place on the low back. I tend to see more low back complaints in my treatment room at this time of year. Why is this?

As I reflected last time, the kidneys are the storehouses of our Qi. When we push our limits by doing too much, not sleeping enough, not staying warm enough, or even having a lot of sex, we can drain our Kidney Qi. If we do these things in the winter, the strain is all the greater. If there is any imbalance in the Water Element, it is more likely to reveal itself in the winter. One of the ways this can show up is in strain, pain and stiffness in the lumbar area.

There are two points in the low back that are very helpful in supporting the Kidney Qi and the Water Element. These lie on the inner and outer lines of the Bladder meridian which run down the back on either side of the spine like sets of railway tracks. These points of the back are called shu points and are found at the vertebral junctions. Each shu point relates to one of the twelve organs. The word shu means transporting, suggesting that the point transports energy directly to the associated organ. The Kidney shu points lie in the lumbar area, on either side of the spine at the level of the navel.

The inner shu point BL 23 (Kidney Shu) directly treats the kidneys themselves and provides access to our deepest reserves of Qi. It also helps with hearing and the ears, the sense organs of the Kidney. Other conditions helped by this point include urination problems, feeling the cold, impotence and infertility. It is the classic point for low back pain and is the focal point for the low back release which I teach in my workshops.

The outer shu point BL 52 (Residence of the Will) also tonifies the kidneys and strengthens the low back. In addition it addresses the psycho-emotional aspects of Water. As its name suggests, it strengthens the will (zhi), allowing access to courage and determination. It supports a person who is experiencing chronic fear and anxiety which are detrimental to the kidneys and Kidney Qi. In such cases this point can assuage fear by providing access to basic trust in the inherent supportiveness of true nature.

Location of BL 23 & 52

BL 23:52These points are in the low back at the level of the junction between vertebrae L2 and L3. This is roughly at the level of the navel. BL23 lies 1.5 cun (two fingers width) outside the spine. BL 52 is 3 cun (four fingers width) outside the spine. If you are working on someone else, have them lie face down and apply direct pressure with your thumbs for 2-3 minutes. If you are working on yourself, lie on your back, make fists and place your knuckles into the points. A quick treatment of these points is to sit in a chair and rub your knuckles up and down across these points. It is a stimulating and warming practice on a cold winter’s day.


Learn the low back and pelvis release patterns. Workshops in Adelaide (August 3rd) and Mount Barker (June 22nd & August 10th). Contact me for more information.